“Behold, you are [about to] lie with your forefathers, and this nation will rise up and stray after the deities of the nations of the land, into which they are coming. And they will forsake Me and violate My covenant which I made with them.” (Devarim 31:16)
Prior to his death, Hashem explains to Moshe that it is futile to think that his words might have penetrated the hearts of the Jewish people or had any overall positive impact. Eventually, the Bnei Yisrael will fail causing Hashem to grow angry and hide His face from them, resulting in them suffering terrible consequences. Moshe gathers the Bnei Yisrael and relays what Hashem has told him will happen to them after his passing and the response that Hashem will have to their actions.
This verse and the ones which proceed it are likely to cause anyone to question the point in even trying to live a fulfilling, moral and successful Jewish life, if it is our fate to sin and fail anyway? For some reading these verses, they may choose to live a life with little positivity and aspiration.
However, there is also another approach and way to look at these verses. Hashem wants to tell us that the Torah was given to us in an imperfect world. We mustn’t believe that Hashem, who gave us the Torah, thought we would be living in a world filled with angels – the opposite is true, since He knew that most people will fail at different stages of their lives. Despite this guarantee, any human, even if they fail from time to time, would prefer to live in a world of standards and ideals, in which justice and goodliness are held high. Moshe’s proclamation of our impending failures is meant to encourage and inspire us to never give up despite all of the failures we anticipate and encounter.
Although sinning and failing is inevitable, Hashem makes it very clear in last week’s Parsha Nitzavim that He is always open to teshuva (repentance) and that nobody has ever strayed too far.
May this year, 5779, be a year full of finding the positivity and goodness within ourselves and never giving up no matter how many times we fall. Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom, Shana Tova and a G’mar Chatima Tova.
Based on an idea by Rabbi David Stav.